Reshaping Education via the BEP
As reported by the ProJo this morning, the new Dep’t of Education Basic Education Program attempts to implement a new way of doing business. It strengthens management rights, implements evaluations, defines a “code of responsibility” and removes seniority as the primary qualifier for job retention. All done to, as Commisioner Deborah Gist explains, to make the system “child-centered.” To help explain these changes, Gist has written several advisories, including one on seniority.
Gist has sought to clarify the ramifications of these new rules by sending out “guidance memos” to districts. No longer will seniority –– the long-held practice of seasoned teachers being allowed to “bump” newer colleagues out of their jobs –– be the sole factor in determining teacher assignments, Gist says.
The new BEP aims to ensure “that highly effective educators work with classrooms of students who have significant achievement gaps,” Gist wrote in an October 2009 memo. “In my view, no system that bases teacher assignment solely on seniority can comply with this regulation.”
Obviously, teacher unions aren’t happy and they’re girding up for a fight. Yet, it’s not just the teacher unions that are taking issue with Gist and her interpretation of the new BEP and Rhode Island law as it pertains to education. In Warwick, for example, Mayor Scott Avedisian is taking issue with school funding requirements that seek to reset the baseline back to 2009 dollars and not the prior baseline (2010/11) that had been legislatively reduced.
Gist’s memo is an answer to the hypothetical question if a community reduced its contribution for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 “is the maintenance of effort reference year FY2009 for purposes of calculating a community’s maintenance of effort obligation for FY 2012?”
In response, she says for 2010 and 2011, a 95 percent of the 2009 maintenance of effort is allowable but that for 2012 it reverts to the 2009 level. Further, she writes, if a community contributed more to schools than the 2009 amount that higher amount becomes the threshold.
I guess time will tell if this will fly.